New FCC AM Rules Addressed
LBA CTO Updates Utility Interests on New FCC AM Protection Rules
LBA Group CTO, Chris Horne, PhD, PE, recently addressed key aspects of new AM protection rules issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Dr. Horne led a learning session at the UtiliSite Council Utilities Joint Use and Wireless Collocation Summit 2014 held earlier this month at the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel in Long Beach, CA.
The FCC has put into effect new rules on Disturbance of AM broadcast station antenna patterns. These may be found in 47 CFR Part 1, Subpart AA, § 1.30000 through § 1.30004 (released as FCC 13-115). The new FCC Part 73 AM detuning protection rules are a revision of regulations that have been in place for years to protect the integrity of AM radio signals. In AM radio, the tower itself functions as the antenna. Consequently, towers, power poles, water tanks and other structures may become an unintended part of the AM antenna system, reradiating the AM signal and distorting the FCC-authorized AM radiation pattern. The new FCC AM protection rules went into effect on February 20, 2014 and establish a uniform set of rules applicable to all services, thus establishing a single protection scheme regarding construction of or on certain structures near AM tower arrays.
The Utilities Joint Use and Wireless Collocation Summit 2014 is traditionally a one-stop education opportunity for utilities and other organizations involved in the wireless collocation and joint use business. The conference provides a valuable opportunity for utility interests to acquire timely information to help them make practical and workable business decisions regarding their company's collocation or joint use activities related to their infrastructure.
Chris Horne, P.E. called on his considerable background both in AM radio and wireless telecommunications to conduct a one-hour educational session giving those attending the information they need to know regard their obligations under the new FCC AM protection rules. His presentation included a brief history of AM protection and how it evolved both in regulatory and industry-accepted practices.
“The new uniform rules apply to all services and assess the effects of construction of a new structure or significant modifications on structures near AM stations,” said Horne.
Dr. Horne reviewed the aspects of the FCC mandated critical distance between a new structure or significantly modified structure and an AM stations’ tower array. He also covered the definition of what constitutes significant modification and the requirements for a party proposing construction or significant modification of an existing structure. Free screening tools for structures are available, he pointed out.
“I provided those in attendance with pamphlet copies of guidelines and best practices on the required notification procedures and detuning requirements to prevent AM pattern disturbance, as well as consequences or remedies for not complying with the new rules,” added Horne. This reference brochure may be downloaded at: https://lbagroup.com/blog/new-fcc-am-protection-rules/.
He also reviewed the methods for determining whether AM detuning of a power pole, water tank, tower or other nearby structure could reduce impact an AM radio station’s signal pattern, including computer modeling and traditional field measurements. He wrapped up the session by discussing detuning solutions. When it is determined that a newly constructed or significantly modified structure will reradiate an AM radio station’s signal beyond an acceptable level, then that structure must have detuning equipment installed. This equipment can be tuned to nullify the effect of the new structure, or significantly modified structure on the AM radio station’s signal. He also pointed out that the FCC requires maintenance of AM detuned towers, and that many presently detuned towers are not in compliance with the rules because of maintenance issues.
LBA is a noted authority on AM compliance issues for the wireless and utility sectors. LBA celebrates 50 years of providing these and other services worldwide. The company provides turnkey technical consulting services for AM compliance through its technical consultancy, Lawrence Behr Associates, Inc. and designs and manufactures Detunipole™ AM detuning skirt systems through its equipment marketing and manufacturing unit, LBA Technology, Inc.